Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Critical Mass: Beyond Panaceas

(This is a unique segment in mwbh's continuing occasional series on the state of Catholic worship entitled "Critical Mass." You are unlikely to read the contents of this piece anywhere else. What precedes it, however, is nothing new to those familiar with the subject.)

There are Catholics who suggest that the 1970 Missal of Paul VI, promulgated in response to the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (its being the response the Council Fathers had in mind a matter of some conjecture), has been the major cause of any and all forms of irreverent behavior in worship, even the herald of a false religion. It is further claimed that nothing short of the normative use of the Roman Missal, as it existed before Vatican II, will counter the "smoke of Satan" that has entered the Church -- as if, in the fifteen centuries of a discernible existence of the "Roman Rite," such has ever stemmed the tide before.

Many of those concerns might be explained by the ancient maxim: "Post hoc ergo propter hoc." ("After this, therefore because of this.") Never mind any attempt at establishing a causal relationship, when the intended audience is inclined to presume it. If it happened afterwards, it must have been caused by what happened before, thus we can build our entire case on it. This modus operandi long diverted any attempt by interested members of the faithful at serious study of the real cause of the derailment of the liturgical movement. Thankfully, the last decade has seen new influences brought to bear, due in no small part to the writings and initiative of the man once known as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, and who now wears the Shoes of the Fisherman.

This should not be construed as an apologia for the official liturgical reform, let alone the manner of its implementation. Rather, I submit that misguided forces within the liturgical movement, riding the wave of popular culture and social change of the mid-20th century, would have been enough for a deconstruction of Catholic worship, whether or not one word of the official texts were ever altered. Such designs existed not only before the Council (in such groundbreaking, if somewhat overly speculative works as The Mass of the Future by Gerard Ellard, SJ, among others), but would be found in Catholic parishes even before the Council was concluded.

For me, this is not a matter of opinion. I have living proof, sitting on the shelves of my library. It is a book I remember from the parish of my childhood.

By the end of 1964, the People's Mass Book, published by the then-Cincinnati-based World Library of Sacred Music (acquired by JS Paluch some years later), appeared as a second edition, with a new schema of Catholic worship, of an origin unspecified therein, known as "The Community Mass." Composed for use with the Roman Missal as it appeared at the time, with limited use of the vernacular, it departed in various places from what would later be identified as the Ordo Missae of 1965.

At the beginning, there is reference to the Entrance Hymn, followed by a litany...

+ + +

In Masses without music the reader leads the congregation in the following prayers:

Leader: Our help + is in the name of the Lord.
People: Who made heaven and earth.
Leader: For a clean mind and a pure heart,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: That we may honor God by loving our neighbor,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: That we may be greatly attentive and truly devout,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: That we may hear in faith and act in love,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: For your blessing on all who are here,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: For those who fail to worship you,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: For the grace of true contrition,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: Let us pray together:
All: I confess to Almighty God...

+ + +

The Mass continues as it normally (and officially) would, even resorting to the official Latin texts for certain parts as yet still mandated in that language.

Moving right along, we come to the Offertory...

+ + +

Before he continues with the Prayer, the priest prepares our gifts of bread and wine to be offered to God our Father. While he does this, we pray the Prayer of the Faithful...

Leader: In peace, let us pray to the Lord:
People: Lord, have mercy.
Leader: For the peace that is from above, for the conversion and salvation of all mankind, let us pray to the Lord:
People: Lord, have mercy.
Leader: For the well being and unity of the Church of God...

+ + +

What continues is clearly taken from the Entrance Litany of the Liturgies of Basil the Great and John Chrysostom -- the Byzantine Rite, a sign of a long-running fascination of the liturgical reformers with the worship of the East. It is unfortunate that a fascination with the transcendent did not accompany it, but that's another story. To continue, everything in this schema goes on as expected, including the exhortation for people to join the priest in the Lord's Prayer -- for some, an early step on the road to perdition, for reasons that as yet boggle the mind.

After communion, we are treated to a third and final litany; again, for recited Masses without music...

+ + +

These prayers are said alternately, starting after the priest closes the tabernacle door.

Leader: For your Holy Name enshrined in our hearts:
People: We give you thanks, O Lord.
Leader: For the gift of faith to believe in this Sacrament:
People: We give you thanks, O Lord.
Leader: For the gift of life it brings us now:
People: We give you thanks, O Lord.
Leader: For the happiness of heaven to which it leads:
People: We give you thanks, O Lord.
Leader: Let us pray:
People: You, Lord Almighty * have created all things for your Names' sake. * You have given food and drink to men * that they may give you thanks. * But to us * you have given spiritual food and drink * and eternal life * through Jesus, your Servant. * To you be glory forevermore. * Remember, O Lord, your Church: * free her from all evil, * form her in your love, * and from the four winds assemble her, * your holy people, into your kingdom * which you have prepared for her. * To you be glory and majesty * and power forever and ever. * Amen.

+ + +

The final portion which is prayed by all, bears some resemblance to a thanksgiving for the Lord's Supper as found in the traditional Book of Common Prayer.

The Postcommunion Prayer follows the third litany, and the Mass is concluded as would be expected.

This hymn and service book received a "Nihil Obstat" from Fathers Eugene Maly and Lawrence Mick of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati as Censors Deputati. Mick would go on to become Director of the Office of Worship for the Archdiocese, and write numerous essays and bulletin inserts on the liturgical renewal. It received an "Imprimatur" from Auxiliary Bishop Paul F Leibold, also of Cincinnati (and who while in that position, administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to yours truly in 1965). Liebold served briefly as archbishop beginning in 1969, following the death of Karl Altar, before his own untimely death in 1972. Apparently satisfied that the work is free of moral and doctrinal error, the editors provide no commentary, no attribution, no explanation contained therein, for what would have appeared to the average pew-sitter to be an official adaptation of the Roman liturgy, but which in fact (if only in retrospect) clearly was not.*

The point -- and I do have one -- is that the more strident advocates of a complete return to the pre-conciliar form of the Roman Rite, have made the official reform (the so-called "Novus Ordo") into the whipping boy for all manner of devious shenanigans in the last forty years. The reality is that most of it would have happened anyway.

If the above proves anything, it already did.

(NOTE: The cover design for the featured hymnal was by William Schickel, a liturgical artist based in Loveland, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati. Images used without permission or shame.)


* If anyone can explain the proliferation of the above schema for Mass on such an ostensibly official level (although I do have my suspicions), mwbh would be pleased to publish it here, with proper attribution. Please contact manwithblackhat at yahoo dot com with your submission.

Is The Pope Catholic?

Never ask a question, unless you want to hear the answer.

It's always amazing how many people don't get that. And I'm not just talking about people whose high point in life is a spot on The Jerry Springer Show. (I met him in Cincinnati as a young man. He's exactly like he is on television, only more so.) I'm talking about educated people, people who write articles for serious journals and try to appear serious as they say something completely asinine, and then get paid for it. Like those bozos at Commonweal, for example. I'll get to them later.

Anyway, this one's for those of you who can't get enough talk about the motu proprio. And I don't mean the one on papal elections. Nope, I don't mean that other one either.

Rod Dreher of The Dallas Morning News, a former non-Catholic who became a Catholic then became Orthodox, explains how all the fuss is because...

...the recent foofarah over Benedict XVI’s statement that the Roman Catholic Church is the only Christian ecclesial body that possesses the fullness of truth scandalized quite a few folks, even some Catholics.

Well, what did they expect? It’s the pope’s job to explain and defend Catholic teaching, which makes unique and exclusive truth claims. It would be logically inconsistent for the pope to affirm Catholic teaching while asserting that churches proclaiming contradictory things are equally correct.

Benedict said nothing new...

...but it's news to many in the Catholic intelligensia, most of whom must surely have known that, sooner or later, this dirty little not-so-secret was going to rear its ugly head. But from my own experience with ecumenical dialogue (and yes, I have had some of that over the years), it's better to lay certain things on the table before you close the deal.

When I endeavored to convert to Catholicism as a young man, the priest and the nun leading our class spent week after week encouraging us to talk about our feelings, and nothing but.

Sick of this cotton-candy catechism, I went to a crusty old Irish priest in an inner-city parish. “When I get t’roo wit’ ye, lad, ye might not want to be a Catlick,” Father Moloney said. “But ye’ll know what a Catlick is!”

People have a right to know what it is to which they are objecting. I've engaged in "guerilla apologetics" for years, on e-mail lists and internet discussion forums. If there is one thing I've learned, it's that the ones who don't care to know, and object anyway, are no match for someone who's ready to tell them. Dreher, to his credit, has understood this all along, even as he swam down the Tiber and up the Bosporus.

So to speak.

Summer of Love: Peter Paul and Mary

It is safe to say that the 1960s was a transformative decade in terms of the popular culture. But much of that could be narrowed down just to the period of 1963 to 1968. The former saw the untimely assassination of a young and charismatic American president, who spoke of how "the torch has been passed to a new generation." The latter was also witness to a senseless death, that of Martin Luther King Jr, and to the urban rioting and campus protests that followed. Both were reflected in the social commentary put to music.

Among the most notable of folk balladeers were the trio known as Peter Paul and Mary (consisting of Peter Yarrow, Noel "Paul" Stookey and Mary Travers). They were put together in 1961 by a manager named Albert Grossman, who wanted "a tall blonde (Travers), a funny guy (Stookey) and a good looking guy (Yarrow)." Everybody needs a gimmick, right? It must have worked, because they have been together ever since.

The first clip is from a 1963 performance of a song entitled "If I Had A Hammer." Interspersed is a commentary by its composer, Pete Seeger. I decided to include it anyway.

As a boy, and a budding guitar player, I wore out the family's copy of Peter Paul and Mary's 1963 album "In the Wind." It was released by Warner Brothers in October 1963, one month before the Kenndey assassination, and a few months before The Beatles landed in America to herald "the British Invasion." It was a time when what some of us call "the folk music scare" was at its peak. The increasing popularity of the new sound, combined with the waning of the "hootenanny" craze, did not deter the urgency of PP&M's social message, even though before the end of the decade, it may have gotten a little hazy. The first time I saw the performance in the clip below was in 1968. Now, if someone could only tell me what the hell these people are trying to say...

Don't think twice, it's alright.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Adveniat Regnum Tuum

Not that the widespread wings of wrong brood o'er a moaning earth,
Not from the clinging curse of gold, the random lot of birth;
Not from the misery of the weal, the madness of the strong,
Goes upward from our lips the cry, "How long, oh Lord, how long?"

Not only from the huts of toil, the dens of sin and shame,
From lordly halls and peaceful homes the cry goes up the same;
Deep in the heart of every man, where'er his life be spent,
There is a noble weariness, a holy discontent.

Where'er to mortal eyes has come, in silence dark and lone,
Some glimmer of the far-off light the world has never known,
Some ghostly echoes from a dream of earth's triumphal song,
Then as the vision fades we cry, "How long, oh Lord, how long?"

Long ages, from the dawn of time, men's toiling march has wound
Towards the world they ever sought, the world they never found;
Still far before their toiling path the glimmering promise lay,
Still hovered round the struggling race, a dream by night and day.

Mid darkening care and clinging sin they sought their unknown home,
Yet ne'er the perfect glory came -- Lord, will it ever come?
The weeding of earth's garden bread from all its growths of wrong,
When all man's soul shall be a prayer, and all his life a song.

Aye, though through many a starless night we guard the flaming oil,
Through we have watched a wary watch, and toiled a weary toil,
Though in the midnight wilderness, we wander still forlorn,
Yet bear we in our hearts the proof that God shall send the dawn.

Deep in the tablets of our hearts He writes that yearning still,
The longing that His hand hath wrought shall not His hand fulfill?
Though death shall close upon us all before that hour we see,
The goal of ages yet is there -- the good time yet to be:

Therefore, tonight, from varied lips, in every house and home,
Goes up to God the common prayer, "Father, Thy Kingdom Come."

-- G K Chesterton (†1936)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Footnote

I walked into the office today, to learn that the air conditioning unit in our office wing had broken down. With the temperature outside climbing into the 90s, and a hypertensive condition, I had to be concerned. So I got permission to work at home for the short term, where I can report that the air is just fine. The Feds have been promoting teleworking pretty aggressively. It comes in handy for those who commute from as far as two hours away, in places like the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. (Anything for a big enough house, I guess.) But since I'm only six miles from the office, that's a tough sell. So it comes down to circumstances like these.

Meanwhile, this page has lately been missing one of its regular features, the Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy. In light of enduring the above -- which I have offered up for the Poor Souls, by the way -- being whimsical was nonetheless a challenge. I'm researching some material, and looking for old photographs, in the hope that you'll have something to look at besides that tiresome face on the right sidebar.

Things may be a bit light in the next month, since even guys in Black Hats have to take a vacation. (Ohio. Is there anywhere else?) But there will be just enough to let you know you haven't been forgotten. I've had the opportunity of late to discover that there are, indeed, people I've never met who read this. I'll go to a lecture, or some other event, and strike up a conversation with someone who already knows who I am. It's a great feeling, but also humbling. It is a great responsibility, when I consider that those who come to this site, expect a certain quality of writing. I hope I never give them reason for disappointment.

We'll still leave the light on for ya. Stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

CNN-YouTube Debate: The High Point

At least one submission to the candidates best expressed the state of the nation for all of us. Produced by "ohigotchya." h/t to Allahpundit of HotAir.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Summer of Love: The Lovin' Spoonful

There is a curious link in the origins of rock music, that takes it back to a form of early jazz known as "jug band music." In England, a teenaged band from Liverpool known as The Quarrymen jumped on the "skiffle" craze in the mid-50s, and their leading members eventually became the nucleus of The Beatles. Meanwhile, "across the pond" in America, a number of folk music enthusiasts in the late 50s and early 60s got into the genre, with a hint of the Southern blues. Towards the end of that phase, a young guitarist named John Sebastian, the son of a famous harmonica player of the same name, teamed up with fellow-guitarist Zal Yanovsky. Together with drummer Joseph Campbell Butler and bassist Steve Boone, they formed a band whose name was inspired by a Mississippi John Hurt tune.

The Lovin' Spoonful was part of the American response to the "British Invasion." Even with hard-hitting tunes like "Summer in the City," they never lost their roots in the "roots music" of America. Such is evident in this clip from CBS' The Ed Sullivan Show. The tune "Nashville Cats" has Sebastian playing the autoharp, an instrument otherwise reserved to folk and mountain music. It was "thinking outside the box" then, and still would be today.

One thing led to another, and the band fell apart by the end of 1968. Sebastian continued with a respectable solo career. Today, he is one of the most popular artists providing musical instruction in autoharp, guitar, and yes, harmonica, for the New York-based Homespun Tapes.

I personally remember watching this performance in 1967: "Yes I was just thirteen, you might say I was a musical proverbial knee-high, when I heard a couple new soundin' tunes on the tube and they blasted me sky-high..." I remember my dad commenting on Sebastian having a nice singing voice. It was an unusual observation in light of the genre, in relation to the source.

Monday, July 23, 2007

When Johnny Can't Reason

They say you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. In my experience, the best results can be had with a fresh road kill.

This is probably a different approach than the carefully reasoned one postulated by "John da Fiesole" at Disputations recently, entitled "The Church Pubescent." The highlight of his piece is a commencement speech given by retired television journalist Tom Brokaw to the 2005 gradutation class at Emory University:

You have been hearing all of your life that this occasion is a big step into what is called the real world. "What," you may ask, "is that real world all about?" "What is this new life?" Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2005 at Emory, real life is not college; real life is not high school. Here is a secret that no one has told you: Real life is junior high.

The world that you're about to enter is filled with junior high adolescent pettiness, pubescent rivalries, the insecurities of 13-year-olds, and the false bravado of 14-year-olds.

The Disputations piece was brought to my attention by my good colleague Philip Blosser at Musings of a Pertinacious Papist, in an entry entitled "Disputations on Tom Brokaw and the Church Pubescent." He made note of how our Dominican friend mused further on these words:

It's particularly frustrating that it's true of that part of real life lived by the Church Militant. Grace -- and not just an over-the-counter kind of buck-you-uppo grace, but the very Presence of God Himself within our persons -- is supposed to transform us into images of Christ. Yet in practice, contact with others -- which is to say, being confronted with the fact that we can't have everything our way right this instant -- transforms us into 13-year-olds.

Surely Christ's grace is stronger than our own petulance. But do we give witness to this by how we live and how we talk to each other?

It's a commonplace to say that on-line Catholic discussion sites are a scandal to the Church. Bitter hatred expressed in the most vile terms is only a few links away from most every non-self-contained Catholic website.

Most days, though, it's not the hatred that gets to me, but the sheer childishness of it. Someone disagrees with you? Someone's so ignorant you can hardly stand to have him around. Someone is a little too pleased with himself? Someone must be taken down a notch. Someone tries to take you down a notch? Someone's just asking for it...

For three or four decades now, depending on who's counting, people have been asking Rome for that which should never have been taken away from them in the first place. If such is the injustice that it is made out to be, than surely extraordinary measures would seem appropriate. Not surprising, then, that an extraordinary measure (inasmuch as it is far-reaching, and unprecedented in living memory) has been undertaken. But there are those who have become accustomed to the status quo, who have invested their entire lives in it, and who are unlikely to go quietly into the night. Like that choir directress in the UK who had a hissy-fit over the thought of using Gregorian chant, and whose tale of woe has been making the rounds in the Catholic blogosphere of late.

So, in the long run, our Dominican friend is right, and it is a reminder to yours truly, of the inherent dangers of going too far in the course of proving a point.

Then again...

The above being as it may, "John" assumes that he is dealing with people who are as open to a mutual search for the truth as would be himself. Alas, these aging adolescents of whom he speaks, by nature of the disposition that characterizes them in his writing, are less concerned with the truth or the common good, than they are with their own desires. They see something they want, and for that reason alone they must have it. Our resident Disputationist has the luxury of putting that impediment aside in his forum. Many of us who see the world and our place in it in a similar vein, are not so fortunate.

They have certainly been less than fortunate in the Diocese of Richmond, for example. Our friends at Richmond Catholic have brought to our attention, a memorandum that was issued several weeks ago by an office within the chancery:

From: "Pat Slater"
Subject: Mary of Magdala Celebration
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 18:12:15 +0000

St Nicholas in Virginia Beach is hosting a Mary of Magdala celebration on July 17th. The flyer is attached. Also, if you would like more information about the real Mary and her feast, you can visit http://www.futurechurch.org/marym/index.htm.

Keep cool and pray for all those who suffer from this heat.

Pat Slater
Office of Justice and Peace

In the wake of this release, the heat was most assuredly on, but not from the weather. After gaining the attention of their Bishop, our functionary was compelled to issue the following... er, uh, clarification:

I sent out an e-mail last week about the Mary of Magdala celebration which is being held at St Nicholas Parish in Virginia Beach. I also attached a link to find out more information about Mary Magdalen at the Future Church website. Apparently this has caused some confusion and I apologize for this...

By citing the link to Future Church I was in no way promoting the agenda of Future Church or implying that our Bishop was promoting the agenda of Future Church. The intention was just to make people aware of the contributions of Mary Magdalen, "apostle to the apostles," first witness to the Lord's resurrection, and leader in the early church. She is frequently misrepresented as a prostitute for which there is no biblical or historical basis.

Again, there was no desire to promote any agenda which deviates from present church practice.

(I had no idea that a matter of Church teaching could be reduced to "present church practice." Ah, 'tis another story for another day...)

But how to reason with such people, then? You can't. They don't listen because they don't have to. Listening to you is inconvenient. Listening to you means giving up what they want, the fruits of a life spent throwing tantrums at convocations with the like-minded. In the case of Ms Slater, that she is either a liar or a fool does not matter. If she is a liar -- in this case, about never intending to promote an organization which dissents from Catholic teaching -- it will never be clear whether she regrets their actions, or getting caught. Either way, it is unlikely that she can ever be trusted, which makes her expendable (or, having already been empowered to speak for a higher authority -- dangerous). If she is a fool -- again, in this case, overlooking an aspect of FutureChurch which would have been obvious to most people in her position -- then she would not gain from any wisdom that is imparted. She may yet be capable of redemption. But first, there must be consequences for her actions. You must take away something she wants. You must remove her from any position of influence over anyone else. Like any addict in denial, it is only when they lose that which enables them, that they can make the decision to change.

What's more, in the course of bringing their influence to bear unencumbered, the functionary becomes little more than a schoolyard bully, operating by sheer force of will, with little to keep their power in check. My childhood saga has made me a consummate expert on bullies, and I can tell you this; there is one thing a bully understands, and one thing only, and that is a force which outmatches their own, in very short and resolute order. You cannot reason with them; you can only beat them into submission.

The decision to resolve this matter is in the hands of the one who ultimately must live with the results; namely, the Most Reverend Bishop of Richmond. Why hasn't he done anything about it? There are two assumptions which may be operating here; one is that he can do something, the other is that he chooses not to.

If a Catholic diocese, on a practical level, is anything like the Federal government (and I can speak with some authority here), it can take a long time. You have to build up evidence over a sustained period, and you have to ensure that no undue discrimination was involved, or it comes back to bite you on the hindquarters. (Trust me on this one.) And when the dust settles, it takes forever to replace them. And if the infestation in the diocesan machinery is as dysfunctional as some Catholics in Virginia suggest, it is likely that a director of a "justice and peace office" will be among the last with which to be dealt.

It has been suggested that Bishop Finn of Kansas City and St Joseph (Missouri) wasted little time in cleaning house once he ascended the cathedra. But he also had over a year as co-adjutor to sniff around and engage others without the burden of the big title. This is a critical advantage, which Bishop DiLorenzo of Richmond did not have, and for which one can take a long time to compensate, once one is in the position itself.

For such as these, whether in Virginia, or "across the pond" in the mother country, tradition is something within their lifetime. It is not something "handed down," but is of their own creation, with a mythical origin to suit their needs. Tradition defined in such a shallow way, has little to distinguish it from mere force of habit. But saints be praised, their day is nearing an end, and acts of desperation are a sure sign of the desperate. Until then, nothing says it all like a fresh road kill.

Because sometimes, you have to make a big enough stink with someone to get their undivided attention.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Divine Office of the Kitchen

Lord of the pots and pipkins, since I have no time to be
A saint by doing lovely things and vigilling with Thee,
By watching in the twilight dawn, and storming Heaven's gates,
Make me a saint by getting meals, and washing up the plates!

Lord of the pots and pipkins, please, I offer Thee my souls,
The tiresomeness of tea leaves, and the sticky porridge bowls!
Remind me of the things I need, not just to save the stairs,
But so that I may perfectly lay tables into prayers.

Accept my roughened hands because I made them so for Thee!
Pretend my dishmop is a bow, which heavenly harmony
Makes on a fiddle frying pan; it is so hard to clean,
And, ah, so horrid! Hear, dear Lord, the music that I mean!

Although I must have Martha's hands, I have a Mary mind,
And when I black the boots, I try Thy sandals, Lord, to find.
I think of how they trod our earth, what time I scrub the floor.
Accept this meditation when I haven't time for more!

Vespers and Compline come to pass by washing supper things,
And, mostly I am very tired; and all the heart that sings
About the morning's work, is gone, before me into bed.
Lend me, dear Lord, Thy Tireless Heart to work in me instead!

My matins are said overnight to praise and bless Thy Name
Beforehand for tomorrow's work, which will be just the same;
So that it seems I go to bed still in my working dress,
Lord make Thy Cinderella soon a heavenly Princess.

Warm all the kitchen with Thy Love and light it with Thy Peace!
Forgive the worrying, and make the grumbling words to cease.
Lord, who laid Breakfast on the shore, forgive the world which saith
"Can any good thing come to God out of poor Nazareth?"

+ + +

(The origin of this poem is undetermined as this is being published. It was read at the conclusion of the homily today, as given by the Reverend Franklyn Martin McAfee, DD, at the Church of Saint John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia. For what it is worth, "pipkins" is another word for "pans.")

Sermon for Shut-Ins: Unavailable

Our usual weekly installment of the Sunday gospel reflections, hosted by Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, is unavailable for this week. It would appear that even bishops need a vacation now and then. Here's hoping the archdiocesan Office of Communications may have His Eminence back in the studio in short order.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pierce Pettis: His Life of Crime

I have been an outlaw
All my grownup life
Just ask my former in-laws
Just ask my former wife

Living from a suitcase
Standing in the rain
You can keep the house, baby
I will keep the change

There have been some changes
I will testify
Still it's just another chapter
In my life of crime
In my life of crime

I first heard of Pierce Pettis about eight years ago, when a colleague at the office loaned me his CD Making Light Of It. Pettis' songs possessed a dry wit, and an enduring faith despite everything, including a broken marriage as was the case with me. And also like me, there was a son in the middle. Eventually I bought the next two which came out, "Everything Matters" and "State of Grace." His life does have a way of moving on, without losing an awareness of its pitfalls. But my favorite work of his, is a manifesto that could have easily have passed for my own at any one time of my life.

I have held some people up
I have robbed the stage
With my trusty six-string
I have made them pay

They smile and give me money
They smile and give me praise
I make out like a bandit
Then I steal away

To a lonely hideout
That no one can find
Making plans for my next caper
In my life of crime
In my life of crime

A good many so-called "Christian" artists wear their faith on their sleeve. Pettis keeps his in his back pocket (Deo gratias!), and pulls it out when the audience isn't looking. Perhaps this is neither to be shy or clever, so much as a result of simply living the way he chooses, and leaving the conclusions to others. Even without following the usual social-political whims of politically-correct "folksingers," Pettis has done respectably in that venue, having been part of the "Fast Folk" wave of singer-songwriters in the 1990s, and having performed at Kerrville Folk Festival, APR's Mountain Stage, NPR's E-town, Morning Edition and World Cafe, not to mention VH-1, CBS News, the Nashville Network...

I chose this life
As much as it chose me
I know I'm an outlaw
But there is honor among thieves

I have seen my posters
Hanging on the wall
I have stayed just out of reach
Of the long arm of the law

Of the law of averages
Of the law of fate
I know my days are numbered
The law must be obeyed

And though I stay two steps ahead
He's just two steps behind
Making sure I never rest
In my life of crime
In my life of crime

Tonight he'll be performing at the Jammin' Java in Vienna, Virginia. The show starts at 7:30, and tickets are only $15. With any luck, he'll perform "State of Grace." It's a song about going home again to Alabama, in a way that yours truly would muse about going home to Ohio.

This should be really good!

(Photo above copyright 2006 by Debi Friedlander. The song "My Life of Crime" is co-written with Dana Cooper, and appears on Pettis' 1996 CD "Making Light Of It," on Compass Records. Photo and lyrics are reproduced here without permission or shame.)

How The Other Half Lives

We hear a fair share of celebrity gossip, or merely read it in passing at the grocery checkout line. The tabloid mentality has crept into the mainstream media of late. Even in the face of truly important news of the day, someone's divorce, or someone else's catfight with their neighbors, shares center stage.

In our weaker moments, we might wonder how they pull it off, living a life in full view of nagging photographers. Are they truly irritated by the attention -- "Please, not with my children around," they might plead -- or do their publicists work behind the scenes to ensure such a spectacle as good for business? Opinions may vary. The singer Perry Como, for example, completely kept his wife and children from the glare of publicity, refusing even to feature them on TV Christmas specials. But what many of these starlets have in common, is a removal from the mainstream of the human condition itself. Commentator Fred Reed brought this to light at LewRockwell.com, in a piece entitled "Life Is Not an Embassy Party."

A rich friend once invited me to his house in the West End of Richmond, Virginia. At supper when you wanted the mashed potatoes, you didn’t say, “Pass the potatoes, please.” No. You rang a little bell and a black guy came out and held the bowl while you scooped potatoes. It was hugely embarrassing. I suspect that he felt like a fool. I know I did. I wanted to scream, “What’s wrong with these people?” and go have a beer with the black guy.

Sounds like something I'd wanna do.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Summer of Love: The Turtles

They got their name when they signed on to White Whale Records. Inspired by the name of The Byrds, they attempted a similar cleverness of misspelling in calling themselves "The Tyrtles." It didn't quite have the same magic though, and the conventional spelling won out. I remember them doing this song live on television. I think it was NBC's Hulabaloo. This might even have been the performance. By early 1967, when this was first shown, the influence of London's fashionable Carnaby Street made its mark on the garment trade. Besides women going for "Victorian" style -- ruffled miniskirts with fishnet stockings, go figure -- men would go for the "Edwardian" look, with the high-buttoned double-breasted jackets. This was just before things went totally flower-power on everybody.

But enough about their clothes. You'd think I'd wanna talk about the music, wouldn't you?

It was just as the cutting edge of pop was getting into serious subject matter, like love and peace and war and what-not. Along come these zany fellows from (where else?) suburban Los Angeles. The two most prominent members of the band were the founders, lead singer Howard Kaylan and trumpeter-vocalist Mark Volman. Eventually, the band left the White Whale label, rather than go along with attempts at an overly packaged image (known at the time as "selling out"). In the years that followed, the band's popularity waned, but because the founding duo were caught up in legal hassles concerning the band -- probably from former members claiming leftover pieces of the action, but I'd have to check on this -- they were barred from using their own names commercially. Maybe they weren't always so "happy together" after all. Anyway, by the seventies -- having already done a stint with... Frank Zappa??? -- the two were known as "Flo and Eddie." (Volman was Flo, and Kaylan was Eddie.) Don't ask me why.

By 1985, they got the Turtles name back, and the two of them still perform at comeback performances as "The Turtles Featuring Flo and Eddie."

So now you know "the rest of the story." What a wacky bunch of guys, eh?

Monday, July 16, 2007


Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It is one of the most popular feasts in honor of the Blessed Mother, if only for its attachment to the Brown Scapular.

In its original form, a "scapular" is a tunic-like garment worn over the habit of male or female members of religious orders. In its more popular form, it is two small pieces of cloth connected by two cords, worn over the neck.

The so-called "Brown Scapular," identified with the Carmelite Order and their traditional brown apparel, originated in the appearance of the Blessed Mother to Saint Simon Stock in 1251. She is said to have told him, upon granting him the Scapular:

"Take, beloved son this scapular of thy order as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant."

The devotion remains popular today, as a new generation of Catholics discovers tradition, and one can spot a Catholic from across the room, bearing the telltale sign around their neck that peers out from underneath their clothing. More information about the Brown Scapular, the devotion attached to it, and the ceremony for its reception (which is how yours truly got his in the fourth grade) can be found here.

Critical Mass: Life After "Te Deum"

The ink is barely dry on the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, which allows for the general, if extraordinary, celebration of the classical usage of the Roman Rite (commonly known as the "Tridentine Mass" or simply "the Old Mass"). With the decree having been issued just over a week ago, and with less than two months before it is implemented, many Catholics are anxious over what will happen next.

Through it all, yours truly has been on top of the news, taking stock of the situation, and has learned quite a bit in the last nine days.

Sometimes, even when you spell things out in specific language, there is at least one person who cannot resist the uncontrollable urge to put their own "spin" on the matter at hand. Most bishops, at least in the USA, have received the papal decree warmly. All who have already allowed the classical use have issued statements affirming this, as well as its continuance. They also generally state how they do not expect the general way of celebrating Mass to change in their jurisdiction. And they're right; for most people, it will not change anything. Here's the thing; the decree was not issued to determine what would not change, but -- well, duh! -- what would.

Some dioceses attempt to place additional requirements, even as they know perfectly well, that as a matter of general norm, a lower authority cannot restrict that which a higher authority allows. This is especially the case with a motu proprio, which by its very nature, is to be interpreted broadly, as opposed to narrowly. In one diocese, a statement prohibits its use during the Paschal Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil), when in fact this applies only to private Masses, which wouldn't be allowed for those occasions anyway, regardless of which set of books is used. Another bishop intends to conduct what amounts to competency exams, to ensure that the priests are capable of celebrating the classical usage properly. This is understandable, were it not for this bishop's predisposition on related matters, not to mention the rather begrudging tone of his official statement. But the worst case, is the one who has even called for his priests to get permission, which is specifically ruled out (beyond that of pastoral guidance) in the text of the papal decree.

But none of this is nearly as disturbing, as the reaction of some of the faithful, particularly those for whom the motu proprio is a victory. These malcontents can be found in blogs and their comments boxes throughout the Catholic blogosphere. To read some of the whining going on, they genuinely expect every diocese in the known world to completely arrange their schedules and priestly resources, in the space of two months, on the possibility that enough of them will grace with their presence, a location other than their home parish. Oh, and that they'll stop complaining. This is a difficult prospect, when certain blogs effectively enable such grousing, to the point of censuring attempts to reason with the unreasonable. It is bad enough to read of ill (and unfounded) motives being assigned to any bishop who doesn't have a master plan already in his back pocket. It is worse when this comes from other priests.

If you've been wondering why your diocese doesn't have a complete schedule already compiled for you and the rest of the Latin-Mass-or-die crowd, here's a reality check that, while it will not placate you in the manner you richly deserve, will apprise you as to why the universe may not be spinning on the axis that is yourself at the moment.

First and foremost, consider that without this decree ever seeing the light of day, the typical parish priest works six days a week. (Pause for a moment to consider that. Six. Days. A Week.) Five of those workdays, at the very least, are longer than eight hours. The shortest one for most is Sunday, and even that one starts early, and consists of several hours of meeting the constant demands of one person or group after the other -- all before lunch. If you've ever wondered why a rectory is the last place to find a priest on a Sunday afternoon, now you know. Then along comes John and Jane Doe, and their little babes all in a row. They are making a reasonable request along the lines of the aforementioned decree, for an additional Mass, to an already full schedule on Sunday morning. They have also assured Father that several dozen other families, some of them from other parishes, whom Father does not normally serve, and over whom he has no pastoral authority, will also be willing to attend. Now, Father cannot say more than three Masses on a Sunday except for an emergency. This is not an emergency. Father also knows that most of his parishioners (those whom he IS obligated to serve) like things the way they are just fine. God only knows why, but they do. Oh, it can't be too late in the day, Father, since little John Paul has to go down for his nap just after noon. Father is thinking about that already-crowded schedule, and how he would really like to accommodate these folks. In fact, he rather favors the Old Mass himself. Now, if only he could unbolt the altar weighing two tons from its location and move it back about six or eight feet...

At times like these, forty years of clowns and balloons and dancing girls and other worst-case scenarios that don't happen nearly as much as you wish they would to prove your point, aren't even an issue. It really comes down to the very practical matter of adding another obligation to an already-full schedule -- all on the assumption that the person being prevailed upon has the same enthusiasm for the idea as does his petitioners.

If, under such circumstances, an additional Mass is agreed upon, there is not only the matter of the priest being trained to do so properly, but that of boys or men (not girls or women, as we are concerned with conditions under the older observance) who are trained to serve the Mass. The reformed Roman Missal does not require a designated clerk for assistance; the classical Roman Missal does. If the host parish uses albs for vesture, and you just can't imagine the sight of that*, it may fall to you to provide cassocks and surplices. The requirements for priestly vesture are also more demanding in the classical usage. If the parish cannot fulfill those requirements, will your "stable group" be able to contribute? If you want a High Mass at any one time, there has to be a schola, or at the very least, a cantor who is schooled in Gregorian chant**, and who is able to lead the chants of the Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, et cetera), as well as sing the propers for the Mass (Introit, Gradual, et cetera).

So, you ask, hey Mister Black Hat Guy, pray tell us, what are we to do?

First, don't expect anything to happen as quickly as you would like. If it does, more power to you. Second, make sure that you are already an active and contributing (financial and otherwise) member of whichever parish upon which you prevail. An experienced parish priest can smell parish-hoppers a mile away. Third, it is generally easier to tear something down than it is to build something up. If one can argue that the Mass was effectively destroyed in just under a decade (a bit of a stretch, but let's give ourselves the benefit of the doubt for now), you can expect a remedy to take much longer. Finally, and most important, DO NOT TAKE YOURSELF VERY SERIOUSLY. God is still in charge of earthly events. The history of the Church has known terrible corruption, and indescribable persecution. A little "dry martyrdom" won't kill you.

If you cannot apply the virtue of true Christian joy to a situation where you have emerged victorious, it says more about you than it does any priest or bishop. I know of an Anglican Use pastor in Texas who would be glad to confess how you appear otherwise, if only you would click here.

Those who have championed Catholic tradition over the decades scored a major and unprecedented victory early this month. It remains to be seen whether most of them can learn to live with getting what they want.

Especially when it involves having one less reason to complain.


* In Eastern Europe, the use of surplices over street clothes, without the use of cassocks, is not uncommon. In Australia, the use of albs instead of cassocks and surplices is not uncommon either.

** It is preferable that the schola consist entirely of men, as they are functioning as surrogates for minor clerics. In the event that only women are available, it is preferable that the schola be composed entirely of women. Either case would ensure what is known as "purity of sound." If you have to ask what that is, you are at a disadvantage in challenging this point.

PHOTOS: Views of a chapel erected on a private estate in Scotland, designed by architect Craig Hamilton. Used without permission or shame.

Friday, July 13, 2007


We had a staff meeting today. They told us there was funding left over for the fiscal year, and wanted to know if we needed anything. I got a tentative approval for an additional monitor.

I can hardly wait.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I don't know how he does it...

...but Chris Condon makes life at a car wash seem interesting. Just reading it almost makes me care.

Pius XII: The Real Deal

There's been a lot of misinformation about Pope Pius XII over the years. Even The New York Times, which lauded his humanitarian efforts in its own pages during World War II, has jumped on the anti-papal bandwagon, like so many lemmings jumping off a cliff.

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley, an Englishman living in North Carolina, has penned an excellent view of this pope, with unique insights into his true character, in a piece entitled "Pope Pius XII: There's more to Jesus than Jews." Simon-Peter does not mention His Holiness' love of racing sportscars along the Italian countryside, nor his hobby of weight-lifting (two things I learned while reading La Popessa). But still, if someone isn't careful, they might learn a thing or two.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Critical Mass: The View From Pittsburgh

I love Pittsburgh. Sure, it's still a bit worn around the edges from the steel mill days, but that's what gives it its unique character. My favorite place to this day is the "Strip District" near downtown, which is a market district along Liberty Street. I used to go to folk dance weekends in Pittsburgh back in the 90s, and I had some great friends and some great times there. I even thought of moving there once. Apparently I did not.

Now, out of that fair city, a story on a more serious note...

Since the release of Summorum Pontificum, devotees of Catholic tradition have been combing the official statements of bishops from around the country and around the world. These statements have generally been positive, with assurances that current practices in allowing the classical use of the Roman Rite will continue. Up until now, one statement that has appeared to stand out among the others, is that which was released by the Diocese of Pittsburgh, if only due to the wording of one particular sentence:

"It is important to note that the celebration of the Roman Missal of Pope Blessed John XXIII is not permitted at regularly scheduled weekday or Sunday."

By itself, this would appear to be at odds with the terms of the motu proprio, and therefore with the stated wishes of the Holy Father himself. Such a posture seemed wanting for an explanation. So this morning, I wrote the co-author of the statement, the Very Reverend Lawrence A DiNardo, Vicar for Canonical Services of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and asked for one.

Father DiNardo:

I have read with interest your memorandum of July 7 last, concerning the implementation of the motu proprio
Summorum Pontificum in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. In said memorandum, you state: "It is important to note that the celebration of the Roman Missal of Pope Blessed John XXIII is not permitted at regularly scheduled weekday or Sunday." This strikes me as a curious interpretation, in light of Article 5 of the decree in question:

Art. 5. § 1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church.

§ 2 Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII may take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such celebration may also be held.

§ 3 For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.

§ 4 Priests who use the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so and not juridically impeded.

I am aware of the establishment of St Boniface/Holy Wisdom Parish, and that it has served the needs of those attached to the ancient usage of the Roman Rite until this time. My concern is limited to a statement which appears more restrictive than what is called for in Article 5 (especially 5 § 2), inasmuch as it would disallow subsequent requests of any other group of the faithful, say, in another part of town.

It is my understanding that statements with force of law in a motu proprio are to be interpreted broadly, rather than narrowly. I am also aware that the English text of the decree is not definitive, and that proper interpretation is dependent upon the Latin text. I would appreciate any clarification you could provide in this matter. I thank you for your time, and look forward to hearing from you.


Just this afternoon, the good Father was kind enough to respond. I just know you'll all read this with an open mind.

Dear David:

You offer two distinct questions. This memorandum is only the first glance at understanding the Motu Proprio and is not intended to be the final practice in the diocese. Second, one must read the second bullet as one bullet. The sentence involves the Masses celebrated without people. Masses without people are not regularly scheduled otherwise they would be Masses with people. It is not intended to imply that public Masses cannot be celebrated on weekdays or Sundays. This was informational to priests. Secondly, the Mass at Saint Boniface is the only stable community at present. It may be that other stable groups will be established. It does not exclude the possible that there will be others in the future and when they are present the Mass will be celebrated. I think we do not want to take statements out of context or read into them something that is not stated or intended. The Diocese has had a long history of implementing the Latin Mass and granting provisions beyond what has been provided for in the norms. I think that the same will be said of the Motu Proprio.

Fr DiNardo

It should be noted that Father DiNardo, in addition to his role at the Chancery, is also pastor of Holy Wisdom/Saint Boniface Parish, where the classical use of the Roman Rite has been offered every Sunday for a number of years now. (Several years ago, a group of pilgrims from that parish came to Washington to visit the National Shrine, in the hopes of being able to celebrate the "Old Mass" there. When they were refused, the Franciscan Monastery offered them sanctuary. I had the good fortune to assist them, by arranging for servers for their Mass from Old St Mary's, as well as an excellent schola.) It should also be noted that Pittsburgh is currently without a reigning bishop, having lost the Most Reverend Donald Wuerl to his current position as Archbishop of Washington just over a year ago. (Auxiliary Bishop Paul Bradley is currently serving as Diocesan Administrator.) As with any other large organization, it is difficult to implement a new policy on much of anything without someone firmly in the big chair. Finally, one would hope this serves as a further reminder of the wisdom of Father Zuhlsdorf's "Rules of Engagement" on the matter in question.

Taking everything into account, it is certain that Pittsburgh would be as favorable as any other diocese, to the prospect of further requests for the ancient usage. And so, this week's Tip of the Black Hat goes off to Father Lawrence A DiNardo of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, for being such a good sport.

Weird Science

Because once you've tried helium, there's nowhere else to go.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Summer of Love: The Byrds

Today, mwbh begins its "Summer of Love" series, showing clips from pop artists of 1967 or thereabouts, in no particular order.

Our first installment is the "folk-rock" band known as The Byrds. David Crosby (guitarist on the right wearing a cape) went on to the "supergroup" known as Crosby Stills and Nash, and being in and out of jail. James McGuinn (the guy in the granny glasses, which were in vogue at the time, don't ask me why) ended up finding Jesus or something like that, and continues with a respectable solo career. Oh, and at some point, he changed his name to Roger. Notice his signature 12-string Rickenbacker guitar, playing that signature sound which became his... well, signature. Chris Hillman (the quiet guy on the left playing bass, I think) went on to the California country-folk-rock scene of the 1970s, briefly playing with Richie Furay and J D Souther (as the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band).

The song in question, "Turn, Turn, Turn," was penned by Pete Seeger, and was based (with surprising accuracy) on verses from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. This performance aired on the ABC program "Shindig" on October 21, 1965.

There were two shows in the mid-60s that featured pop and rock artists. Sometimes, when my parents weren't feeling as threatened as they usually did, about the effect of such degenerate music on our young and impressionable minds, they'd let us watch them. "Shindig" was one; the other was NBC's "Hulabaloo." Both were in black and white, and so is this.

History: Out of the Woods

Dr Thomas Woods has done it again. The man who set us straight on the role the Catholic Church played in the development of Western civilization (well, set you straight, actually, 'cuz I already knew about the Galileo thing), has come out with a new book entitled 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask, published by Random House/Crown Forum. In his announcement, he lists some of the questions. Here are a few of them, with my answers. Just off the top of my head, of course:

* Were the American Indians really environmentalists?

If they were, the mound builders would not have disappeared by the time Columbus had arrived. The Adenas and the Hopewells were gone, their lands inhabited by the Miamis and the Shawnees, and the great mound city of Cahokia was completely deserted.

* Was the U.S. Constitution meant to be a "living, breathing" document that changes with the times?


* Did the Iroquois Indians influence the United States Constitution?

Yes. The treaty among the five nations (later expanded to six when the Oniedas joined them, at least I think it was them) which formed the "people of the longhouse," was said to have inspired the Constitution. [I have since been apprised by one of our commenters, that it was the Tuscaroras which later joined the Iroquois Confederacy. The Oniedas were already included at the time. I stand corrected.]

* Did school desegregation narrow the black-white achievement gap?

If an opinion piece in last Sunday's Washington Post is any indication, no.

* Did the Founding Fathers support immigration?

Yes. Up to a point. They were also adamant about assimilation.

* What was "the biggest unknown scandal of the Clinton years"?

You mean we don't know all of them????

* Does the Constitution really contain an "elastic clause"?


To find out how I did, and how you could do, you have to get the book. It's out now. From the announcement, I learned a few things about the Western expansion which surprised even me, so imagine what this book could do for you. Click on the title to learn more.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Te Deum

Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur...

It is one of the earliest hymns of praise in Christendom. Tradition has held that Saints Ambrose and Augustine composed it, on the occasion of Augustine's baptism in AD 387 by Ambrose. It was more likely the work of a contemporary, Saint Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana.

Te Deum laudámus:
te Dóminum confitémur.
Te aetérnum Patrem,
omnis terra venerátur.

Tibi omnes ángeli,
tibi caeli
et univérsae potestátes:
tibi chérubim et séraphim
incessábili voce proclámant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dóminus Deus Sábaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra
maiestátis glóriae tuae....

We praise Thee, O God;
We acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship Thee,
The Father everlasting.

To Thee all Angels cry aloud,
The heavens and all the powers therein.
To Thee Cherubim and Seraphim
Proclaim with unceasing voice:
"Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full
of the majesty of Thy glory..."

Inspired by the words of the Apostles Creed, the hymn expands upon this declaration of faith, and describes a vision of the heavenly liturgy. It is this perfect sacrifice of praise, of which the Holy Mass, in all its splendor, is only a foretaste.

Te gloriósus
apostolòrum chorus,
te prophetárum
laudábilis númerus,
te mártyrum candidátus
laudat exércitus.
Te per orbem terrárum
sancta confitétur Ecclésia,
Patrem imménsae maiestátis;
venerándum tuum verum
et únicum Fílium;
Sanctum quoque
Paráclitum Spíritum.

Tu rex glóriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempitérnus es Filius.

Tu, ad liberándum susceptúrus hóminem,
non horrúisti Virginis úterum.
Tu, devícto mortis acúleo,
aperuísti credéntibus regna caelórum.

Tu ad déxteram Dei sedes,
in glória Patris.
Iudex créderis esse ventúrus.

Te ergo quáesumus,
tuis fámulis súbveni,
quos pretióso sánguine redemísti.

Aetérna fac cum sanctis tuis
in glória numerári...

The glorious chorus of Apostles,
The admirable company of Prophets,
The army of Martyrs clothed in white,
The holy Church throughout all the world,
Doth acknowledge Thee,
The Father of infinite majesty,
Thine honourable, true, and only Son,
And also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.

Thou art the King of glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.

Thou, in undertaking the freeing of man,
Didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
Thou, having overcome the sting of death,
Didst open to believers the kingdom of heaven.

Thou sittest at the right hand of God
In the glory of the God the Father.
We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge.

We beseech Thee, therefore, to help Thy servants,
Whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.

Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints
In eternal glory...

As it describes the scene in heaven, so also its turns its attention below, to the Incarnation -- the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Christ, culminating in His ascension into glory. Those who sing its praises call upon that glory, even as they implore His mercy.

Salvum fac pópulum tuum, Dómine,
et bénedic hereditáti tuae.
Et rege eos, et extólle illos
usque in aetérnum.

Per síngulos dies benedícimus te;
et laudámus nomen tuum
in sáeculum, et in sáeculum sáeculi.

Dignáre, Dómine,
die isto sine peccáto nos custodíre.
Miserére nostri, Dómine, miserére nostri.

Fiat misericórdia tua,
Dómine, super nos,
quemádmodum sperávimus in te.
In te, Dómine, sperávi:
non confúndar in aetérnum.

O Lord, save Thy people,
and bless Thine inheritance.
Rule over them, and lift them up for ever.

Day by day we bless Thee
And we worship Thy Name
On earth and in heaven.

Find it fitting, O Lord,
to guard us without sin on that day.
O Lord, have mercy upon us,
have mercy upon us.

O Lord, let Thy mercy be upon us
Who have hoped in thee.
O Lord, in Thee have I hoped;
May I never be confounded.

And so it was, in many Catholic parishes today, where this song of thanksgiving was sung. There are unfounded fears within the Catholic intelligensia, of "turning the clock back," as if the singing of a hymn in an arcane language would have the power to alter time and space. There are many questions of how the future of Catholic worship, and the preservation of tradition, will take shape. It is beyond human ability to predict the future, yet the questions remain.

The only way to answer, is that one has to start somewhere.

Sermon for Shut-Ins: Vocations

“The harvest is abundant
but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you
like lambs among wolves..."
--Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20 or 10: 1-9

His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, reflects on Jesus sending his disciples as found in this Sunday's Gospel. This clip features photos from the ordination of Philadelphia's seven new priests by Sarah Webb.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Summorum Pontificum

To listen to a recording of Te Deum while reading the following, click here -- if you're into that sort of thing...

+ + +


Up to our own times, it has been the constant concern of supreme pontiffs to ensure that the Church of Christ offers a worthy ritual to the Divine Majesty, 'to the praise and glory of His name,' and 'to the benefit of all His Holy Church.'

Since time immemorial it has been necessary - as it is also for the future - to maintain the principle according to which 'each particular Church must concur with the universal Church, not only as regards the doctrine of the faith and the sacramental signs, but also as regards the usages universally accepted by uninterrupted apostolic tradition, which must be observed not only to avoid errors but also to transmit the integrity of the faith, because the Church's law of prayer corresponds to her law of faith.' (1)

Among the pontiffs who showed that requisite concern, particularly outstanding is the name of St. Gregory the Great, who made every effort to ensure that the new peoples of Europe received both the Catholic faith and the treasures of worship and culture that had been accumulated by the Romans in preceding centuries. He commanded that the form of the sacred liturgy as celebrated in Rome (concerning both the Sacrifice of Mass and the Divine Office) be conserved. He took great concern to ensure the dissemination of monks and nuns who, following the Rule of St. Benedict, together with the announcement of the Gospel illustrated with their lives the wise provision of their Rule that 'nothing should be placed before the work of God.' In this way the sacred liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman use, enriched not only the faith and piety but also the culture of many peoples. It is known, in fact, that the Latin liturgy of the Church in its various forms, in each century of the Christian era, has been a spur to the spiritual life of many saints, has reinforced many peoples in the virtue of religion and fecundated their piety.

Many other Roman pontiffs, in the course of the centuries, showed particular solicitude in ensuring that the sacred liturgy accomplished this task more effectively. Outstanding among them is St. Pius V who, sustained by great pastoral zeal and following the exhortations of the Council of Trent, renewed the entire liturgy of the Church, oversaw the publication of liturgical books amended and 'renewed in accordance with the norms of the Fathers,' and provided them for the use of the Latin Church.

One of the liturgical books of the Roman rite is the Roman Missal, which developed in the city of Rome and, with the passing of the centuries, little by little took forms very similar to that it has had in recent times.

'It was towards this same goal that succeeding Roman Pontiffs directed their energies during the subsequent centuries in order to ensure that the rites and liturgical books were brought up to date and when necessary clarified. From the beginning of this century they undertook a more general reform.' (2) Thus our predecessors Clement VIII, Urban VIII, St. Pius X (3), Benedict XV, Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII all played a part.

In more recent times, Vatican Council II expressed a desire that the respectful reverence due to divine worship should be renewed and adapted to the needs of our time. Moved by this desire our predecessor, the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, approved, in 1970, reformed and partly renewed liturgical books for the Latin Church. These, translated into the various languages of the world, were willingly accepted by bishops, priests and faithful. John Paul II amended the third typical edition of the Roman Missal. Thus Roman pontiffs have operated to ensure that 'this kind of liturgical edifice ... should again appear resplendent for its dignity and harmony.' (4)

But in some regions, no small numbers of faithful adhered and continue to adhere with great love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms. These had so deeply marked their culture and their spirit that in 1984 the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, moved by a concern for the pastoral care of these faithful, with the special indult 'Quattuor abhinc anno," issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted permission to use the Roman Missal published by Blessed John XXIII in the year 1962. Later, in the year 1988, John Paul II with the Apostolic Letter given as Motu Proprio, 'Ecclesia Dei,' exhorted bishops to make generous use of this power in favor of all the faithful who so desired.

Following the insistent prayers of these faithful, long deliberated upon by our predecessor John Paul II, and after having listened to the views of the Cardinal Fathers of the Consistory of 22 March 2006, having reflected deeply upon all aspects of the question, invoked the Holy Spirit and trusting in the help of God, with these Apostolic Letters we establish the following:

Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the 'Lex orandi' (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi,' and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church's Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a division in the Church's 'Lex credendi' (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite.

It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church. The conditions for the use of this Missal as laid down by earlier documents 'Quattuor abhinc annis' and 'Ecclesia Dei,' are substituted as follows:

Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary.

Art. 3. Communities of Institutes of consecrated life and of Societies of apostolic life, of either pontifical or diocesan right, wishing to celebrate Mass in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962, for conventual or "community" celebration in their oratories, may do so. If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to undertake such celebrations often, habitually or permanently, the decision must be taken by the Superiors Major, in accordance with the law and following their own specific decrees and statues.

Art. 4. Celebrations of Mass as mentioned above in art. 2 may - observing all the norms of law - also be attended by faithful who, of their own free will, ask to be admitted.

Art. 5. § 1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church.

§ 2 Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII may take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such celebration may also be held.

§ 3 For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.

§ 4 Priests who use the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so and not juridically impeded.

§ 5 In churches that are not parish or conventual churches, it is the duty of the Rector of the church to grant the above permission.

Art. 6. In Masses celebrated in the presence of the people in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII, the readings may be given in the vernacular, using editions recognised by the Apostolic See.

Art. 7. If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in art. 5 § 1, has not obtained satisfaction to their requests from the pastor, they should inform the diocesan bishop. The bishop is strongly requested to satisfy their wishes. If he cannot arrange for such celebration to take place, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei".

Art. 8. A bishop who, desirous of satisfying such requests, but who for various reasons is unable to do so, may refer the problem to the Commission "Ecclesia Dei" to obtain counsel and assistance.

Art. 9. § 1 The pastor, having attentively examined all aspects, may also grant permission to use the earlier ritual for the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick, if the good of souls would seem to require it.

§ 2 Ordinaries are given the right to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation using the earlier Roman Pontifical, if the good of souls would seem to require it.

§ 3 Clerics ordained "in sacris constitutis" may use the Roman Breviary promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962.

Art. 10. The ordinary of a particular place, if he feels it appropriate, may erect a personal parish in accordance with can. 518 for celebrations following the ancient form of the Roman rite, or appoint a chaplain, while observing all the norms of law.

Art. 11. The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", erected by John Paul II in 1988 (5), continues to exercise its function. Said Commission will have the form, duties and norms that the Roman Pontiff wishes to assign it.

Art. 12. This Commission, apart from the powers it enjoys, will exercise the authority of the Holy See, supervising the observance and application of these dispositions.

We order that everything We have established with these Apostolic Letters issued as Motu Proprio be considered as "established and decreed", and to be observed from 14 September of this year, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, whatever there may be to the contrary.

From Rome, at St. Peter's, 7 July 2007, third year of Our Pontificate.


(1) General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 3rd ed., 2002, no. 397.

(2) John Paul II, Apostolic Letter "Vicesimus quintus annus," 4 December 1988, 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.

(3) Ibid.

(4) St. Pius X, Apostolic Letter Motu propio data, "Abhinc duos annos," 23 October 1913: AAS 5 (1913), 449-450; cf John Paul II, Apostolic Letter "Vicesimus quintus annus," no. 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.

(5) Cf John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Motu proprio data "Ecclesia Dei," 2 July 1988, 6: AAS 80 (1988), 1498.

(This unofficial translation is provided by a weblog entitled Summorum Pontificum, and is inserted to substitute for that which was provided by the USCCB, in response to numerous concerns about the quality of the English translation. Neither is an official translation. Only the Latin original of the Apostolic Letter may be considered the official text.)

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My dear Brother Bishops,

With great trust and hope, I am consigning to you as Pastors the text of a new Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970. The document is the fruit of much reflection, numerous consultations and prayer.

News reports and judgments made without sufficient information have created no little confusion. There have been very divergent reactions ranging from joyful acceptance to harsh opposition, about a plan whose contents were in reality unknown.

This document was most directly opposed on account of two fears, which I would like to address somewhat more closely in this letter.

In the first place, there is the fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions – the liturgical reform – is being called into question. This fear is unfounded. In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were "two Rites". Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.

As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted. At the time of the introduction of the new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal. Probably it was thought that it would be a matter of a few individual cases which would be resolved, case by case, on the local level. Afterwards, however, it soon became apparent that a good number of people remained strongly attached to this usage of the Roman Rite, which had been familiar to them from childhood. This was especially the case in countries where the liturgical movement had provided many people with a notable liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier Form of the liturgical celebration. We all know that, in the movement led by Archbishop Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity; the reasons for the break which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level. Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.

Pope John Paul II thus felt obliged to provide, in his Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei (2 July 1988), guidelines for the use of the 1962 Missal; that document, however, did not contain detailed prescriptions but appealed in a general way to the generous response of Bishops towards the "legitimate aspirations" of those members of the faithful who requested this usage of the Roman Rite. At the time, the Pope primarily wanted to assist the Society of Saint Pius X to recover full unity with the Successor of Peter, and sought to heal a wound experienced ever more painfully. Unfortunately this reconciliation has not yet come about. Nonetheless, a number of communities have gratefully made use of the possibilities provided by the Motu Proprio. On the other hand, difficulties remain concerning the use of the 1962 Missal outside of these groups, because of the lack of precise juridical norms, particularly because Bishops, in such cases, frequently feared that the authority of the Council would be called into question. Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them. Thus the need has arisen for a clearer juridical regulation which had not been foreseen at the time of the 1988 Motu Proprio. The present Norms are also meant to free Bishops from constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to various situations.

In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities. This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded. The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often. Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.

It is true that there have been exaggerations and at times social aspects unduly linked to the attitude of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition. Your charity and pastoral prudence will be an incentive and guide for improving these. For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal. The "Ecclesia Dei" Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard. The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.

I now come to the positive reason which motivated my decision to issue this Motu Proprio updating that of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to unable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: "Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your hearts also!" (2 Cor 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.

There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.

In conclusion, dear Brothers, I very much wish to stress that these new norms do not in any way lessen your own authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy or for the pastoral care of your faithful. Each Bishop, in fact, is the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22: "Sacrae Liturgiae moderatio ab Ecclesiae auctoritate unice pendet quae quidem est apud Apostolicam Sedem et, ad normam iuris, apud Episcopum").

Nothing is taken away, then, from the authority of the Bishop, whose role remains that of being watchful that all is done in peace and serenity. Should some problem arise which the parish priest cannot resolve, the local Ordinary will always be able to intervene, in full harmony, however, with all that has been laid down by the new norms of the Motu Proprio.

Furthermore, I invite you, dear Brothers, to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect. If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought.

Dear Brothers, with gratitude and trust, I entrust to your hearts as Pastors these pages and the norms of the Motu Proprio. Let us always be mindful of the words of the Apostle Paul addressed to the presbyters of Ephesus: "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son" (Acts 20:28).

I entrust these norms to the powerful intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, dear Brothers, to the parish priests of your dioceses, and to all the priests, your co-workers, as well as to all your faithful.

Given at Saint Peter’s, 7 July 2007


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Father Zuhlzdorf provides an introduction and commentary (not to mention that recording of Te Deum -- thanks, Padre). The English translation of the explanatory letter is from the Vatican website. mwbh will be providing its own commentary when we get around to it. Gaudete!